The technology firm Conduent this week announced that it was selected by the Kansas Department of Children and Families to help the agency abandon its decades-old mainframe system for Microsoft’s cloud platform.
The roughly $6.9 million project, which is to be developed over the next 19 months, is the latest move by a state government to eschew legacy technologies that are increasingly difficult to support. About half of child support agencies still rely on legacy mainframes, according to Conduent’s press release. In Kansas’ case, the mainframe had become an expensive liability, but critical to provide services for some 131,000 children and their parents in the state.
Conduent executive Scott Cade told StateScoop that when states opt to replatform, rather than develop a custom solution, it’s often to reduce project costs and avoid the challenges that many states now face in finding programmers who are familiar with the legacy code bases that mainframes use.
Kansas’ project shifts the agency’s COBOL-based software onto Microsoft’s .NET framework, a technology with no shortage of qualified developers. Cade said Kansas’ project doesn’t include the addition of any new functionality and the outside observer shouldn’t notice any difference when it’s complete. But it does provide the state an opportunity to consider adding new features, he said.
“What this will enable them to do once they get it onto the new platform is begin to think about how they will change their business and what is the new case management system they want to build for the future,” Cade said. “This is really the foundation for that next stage.”